OSU Verbal Clifford Named Army All-American

Cincinnati Colerain safety Eugene Clifford was selected earlier today to participate in the 2007 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in January. In front of the student body, Clifford (6-2, 190) was recognized for his accomplishments by the Army and Colerain.

Colerain safety and Ohio State recruit Eugene Clifford was officially selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl this afternoon and was honored by his fellow students, faculty, coaches and teammates in a school assembly. With the selection, Clifford joins Cincinnati LaSalle defensive end Ben Martin as the lone representatives from Ohio scheduled to participate in the January game.

"It is a great honor to play in this game," said Clifford. "I am really excited about this and I know my teammates are. But tonight I am going to focus on trying to win and get to the next game so we can win a state championship this year."

Colerain faces cross-town rival Cincinnati St. Xavier (10-1) tonight in the regional finals.

"This is really important to me but tonight's game is a little more important because I want that ring on my finger," Clifford said.

Clifford (6-2, 190) leads an unforgiving Colerain defense that is allowing just six points per game and has posted six shutouts through 12 games.

Colerain is ranked nationally in most polls with a perfect 12-0 record.

"We had some bumpy roads during the season but now we are picking it up and getting our swagger back, as coach (Kerry) Coombs says," Clifford said. "Our players are taking it to the next level so that we can get it done and get back to where we were two years ago."

Colerain claimed the Division I state title in 2004.

"The defense is real good this year. We have had numerous shutouts and we're just going to try and keep on doing what we do," he said.

Clifford becomes the second player from Colerain to be selected to the prestigious All-American Bowl game with offensive linemen Conner Smith receiving the honors last year.

Smith is now a freshman at Ohio State.

"There are only a handful of schools that have had two kids in the game and we're fortunate enough to be there," said Coombs. "It is a privilege to be able to coach kids of this caliber that will be selected to play in a game like this.

"I got a chance to go see Conner last year and I am going to go see Eugene this year and it is very exciting as a coach to see one of your kids play on a national stage with the nation's best kids. It is a great game and the Army does a tremendous job with every facet of the game."

Coombs reflected on the type of player Clifford is and what he has meant to the Colerain program during his high school career.

"Eugene is one of the greatest players to ever play here at Colerain High School. In the last three years, he has been a starter in every game and he has never missed a play. He has made a difference in every single game that he has been on the field and I expect that he is going to make a difference for the rest of his career at Colerain and then at Ohio State.

"He is a special athlete and special player," added Coombs. "He closes on the ball extremely well and he plays the ball in the air as well as anybody I have ever seen. He is a very physical player from the safety position, runs back kicks and punts, can play wide receiver, can play running back and he is just a special talent.

"But I think the thing that is great about Eugene is he's never put himself in front of the team and might even be a little bit embarrassed about the attention today. I think his focus today is on the game tonight and not his individual accomplishments. I give him a lot of credit for that. That is the reason he is where he is and I think the Army should rejoice in picking players like that because that is what the Army is all about. They're all about selfless people that are giving for each other and that is what Eugene exemplifies to our football team."

Clifford, Coombs and the rest of the Cardinal Nation hope to knock of the defending state champions tonight when they take the field with St. Xavier, which is also ranked nationally.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium.

"They're a good team and we're a good team, so I am sure it is going to be a good battle," Clifford said.

Coombs added, "Our kids are prepared, they're well-rested, they've practiced extremely well and we're fortunate to be in the game and look forward to having the chance to play against one of the best teams in the country."

Both of Colerain's losses last season came at the hands of St. Xavier, including the regional semifinals loss that ended its season.

After tonight's game, Clifford is headed to Columbus to watch his future team, Ohio State, take on Michigan in an epic match up.

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